Concert season opener pays tribute to former Yale Band director

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This photo from the Yale Concert Band archives shows Keith Wilson conducting the band on Cross Campus in May 1958.

The Yale Concert Band, directed by Thomas C. Duffy, will open its season on Friday, Sept. 27, with a concert in memory of Keith Wilson, who served as Yale’s director of bands from 1946 to 1972. Wilson, professor emeritus of clarinet, died June 2 at the age of 96.

The concert will take place at 7:30 p.m. in Woolsey Hall, corner of College and Grove streets. Admission is free.

The band will perform Paul Hindemith’s “Symphonic Metamorphosis on Themes of Carl Maria von Weber,” Mitch Leigh’s “The Wilson Wail,” Gary Schocker’s “Green Places,” and other works.

Wilson arranged a band edition of Hindemith’s piece in 1961. Hindemith was a colleague of Wilson’s on the Yale music faculty from 1940 to 1953. Leigh ’51, YSM ’52, the renowned composer of “Man of La Mancha,” was a student of Wilson’s while at Yale and wrote “The Wilson Wail” in 1967 in honor of his former teacher.

Schocker’s “Green Places” blends baroque, jazz, classical, and folk music to evoke the settings of different types of gardens. The concerto will feature Jake Fridkis YSM ’14 on flute.

Keith Wilson was appointed to the School of Music faculty in 1946 and taught at Yale for over 40 years before retiring in 1987 at the age of 70. When he joined the faculty, he was the School’s only woodwind professor. During his tenure, he also served as the associate dean of the School of Music and director of the Norfolk Summer School of Music. In 1999 he was awarded the Sanford Medal, the School of Music’s highest honor, in a ceremony during a Yale Concert Band performance. He also received the Gustav Stoeckel Award, which honors faculty who have contributed to the life of the School of Music.

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